From 1 September 2017, the European XFEL – the world’s biggest X-ray laser – will be in regular operation. The €1.22 billion research facility in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region involves eleven European countries.
The facility is a project of superlatives: with 27,000 X-ray laser flashes per second and a luminance a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray sources, XFEL will open up entirely new research opportunities and help transcend the current boundaries of scientific research. It will enable international scientists to decipher the molecular composition of viruses and cells, take three-dimensional images of the nanoworld, film chemical reactions and study processes occurring deep inside planets. XFEL will help develop e.g. new medication and new materials.
This Friday, the facility will be launched by Germany’s Research Minister Johanna Wanka, Hamburg's First Mayor Olaf Scholz, Schleswig-Holstein's Science Minister Karin Prien, Russia’s Presidential Advisor Andrei Fursenko, French Research Minister Frédérique Vidal and other high-ranking representatives. They will be joined by several external researchers, who are currently preparing for their first experiments in mid-September.
XFEL is a non-profit organisation that closely collaborates with DESY Hamburg and other international institutions. It employs about 300 people. With a cost of €1.22 billion for construction and launch and a 3.4-kilometre tunnel system that extends to the state of Schleswig-Holstein, it is among Europe’s biggest and most ambitious research projects. Eleven countries are involved: Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland; the UK is in the process of joining. For Hamburg as a science and business location, XFEL marks a further step in establishing itself as an international innovation hub.